The Big Japanese Power Sharing Story: Pure Fantasy

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Remember the story about the rotating power rationing in Japan? One for all, all for one? It appears that it is pure fantasy. On Saturday, The Nikkei [sub] wrote that Japanese automakers are considering running their factories in rotation to help cut the industry’s electricity consumption. The wire service said that “automakers are expected to hold a consultative meeting shortly at the office of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association to agree a rotational schedule.” The story had originated on the usually reliable and sometimes uncomfortably persistent Kyodo wire. On Monday, the story grew legs. Automotive News [sub] reported that the electronic industries don’t want to be left behind and demand rotating production holidays between the automotive and electronics industries. It now emerges that it was all wishful thinking.

Today, I called a few members of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association to find out how the meeting went and what was decided. All JAMA members contacted said that there was no such meeting. There wasn’t even such a plan.

One industry insider said “I saw the Kyodo story last week. Closing 7-11 on Monday, Family Mart on Tuesday and Lawson’s on Wednesday sounds like a simple idea. The problem is, the car industry isn’t that simple.”

A contact at another JAMA member said: “If anyone should know about this meeting, then it’s me. I don’t know about this meeting.”

All industry sources contacted confirmed that the lack of reliable power is a huge problem. “We can fix our plants. We can give our suppliers the assistance they need,” said an executive at a leading JAMA member. “We wish we could provide our suppliers with power.”

Once the usually hot and humid summer has arrived in Japan, the power problem will be much bigger than now. According to the manufacturers, there is no simple solution in sight, not even a complicated one. All they know is that the power will be scarce and more expensive.

Who would have thought that a lack of electricity will put a big dent into the Japanese, and by extension the world’s auto industry?

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  • Cdotson Cdotson on Mar 30, 2011

    I wonder (hope?) if Japan will view rebuilding from this disaster as an opportunity to merge their grids' cycle frequency. Low-voltage 50Hz can be a real PITA for some manufacturers of electromechanical equipment (like the company I work for). Some items just don't like the 50Hz Japanese supply, especially since its voltage window seems to trend to the low side anyway.

  • Geozinger Geozinger on Mar 30, 2011

    I know this is totally OT; but this quote has left me verblufft sein: "One industry insider said “I saw the Kyodo story last week. Closing 7-11 on Monday, Family Mart on Tuesday and Lawson’s on Wednesday sounds like a simple idea. The problem is, the car industry isn’t that simple.” " I haven't heard or seen a mention of Lawson's in at least 25+ years, and I had no idea they had been operating in Japan (and now China!) for a number of years now (thank you Wikipedia). it's hard for me to fathom that a convenience store chain that took root 45 mins away from where I'm from, moved to the Far East and is prospering... Weird...

  • Nrd515 I don't really see the point of annual inspections, especially when the car is under 3 years (warranty) old. Inspections should be safety related, ONLY, none of the nonsensical CA ARB rules that end up being something like, "Your air intake doesn't have an ARB sticker on it, so you have to remove it and buy one just like it that does have the ARB sticker on it!". If the car or whatever isn't puking smoke out of it, and it doesn't make your eyes water, like an old Chevy Bel-Air I was behind on Wed did, it's fine. I was stuck in traffic behind that old car, and wow, the gasoline smell was super potent. It was in nice shape, but man, it was choking me. I was amused by the 80 something old guy driving it, he even had a hat with a feather in it, THE sign of someone you don't want to be driving anywhere near you.
  • Lou_BC "15mpg EPA" The 2023 ZR2 Colorado is supposed to be 16 mpg
  • ToolGuy "The more aerodynamic, organic shape of the Mark VIII meant ride height was slightly lower than before at 53.6 inches, over 54.2” for the Mark VII."• I am not sure that ride height means what you think it means.Elaboration: There is some possible disagreement about what "ride height" refers to. Some say ground clearance, some say H point (without calling it that), some say something else. But none of those people would use a number of over 4 feet for a stock Mark anything.Then you go on to use it correctly ("A notable advancement in the Mark VIII’s suspension was programming to lower the ride height slightly at high speeds, which assisted fuel economy via improved aerodynamics.") so what do I know. Plus, I ended a sentence with a preposition. 🙂
  • ToolGuy The dealer knows best. 🙂
  • ToolGuy Cool.